Tag Archives: diploma mills

Diploma Mills & Fake Degrees: A billion $$$ industry

May 24th, 2019

According to an article by The Star, a recent report from Akhbar & Associates, a corporate fraud investigation agency, has found that “an estimated one in 20 potential hires in Malaysia has fake qualifications while one in 10 has credentials from unaccredited institutions.”

Many of these individuals are applying for senior management jobs at banks and the health care industry. The investigation agency found that the fake diplomas were purchased by Axact, the diploma mill in Karachi, Pakistan. You can read the full report here

The problem with fake diplomas and credentials from unaccredited institutions is not something new and is also not going away any time soon. ACEI has been covering the epidemic of diploma and accreditation mills in past blogs. In this week’s blog, rather than write more about this topic, we thought you’d prefer watching a documentary Al Jazeera’s program 101 Documentary aired on Axact and how entrenched the problem of diploma mills around the globe.

Don’t fall prey to diploma mills or get duped into accepting a fake diploma. Stay aware! Research! Verify!

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Filed under Credentials, Education


January 4th, 2019

Regretfully, Axact is still in business on the Internet today. Look at their website, www.axact.com, and remember everything you see is ‘smoke and mirrors.’ They ‘hide’ in plain sight under the corporate umbrella as the ‘World’s leading IT Company.’ I am told they have no exportable product! Please click on all their links, look closely at the pictures, platforms, core ‘products,’ business units, etc. Just remember the true nature of the business!! You have never seen anything like this before.

Axact has about “25,000 employees and representatives worldwide” (their words) selling their products. They have websites for 700-900 fake schools, 400-500 fake accreditation mills, 100+ ‘spider web’ type sites designed to lure the potential student into one of their schools, along with other support sites used for support. Axact is currently updating some of their older schools and changing web to .education (.edu) extensions. Beware!

Since their fake schools are touted as being ‘American,’ they have created about 20-35 U.S. type accreditors which show the American Flag, U.S. Capitol and appropriately use red, white and blue colors. They even gave a Washington, DC address to a school or accreditor. Axact tends to use addresses for many schools in Southern California, more than any other state. Prospective students are lured into these schools by promise of great jobs requiring a degree, hefty scholarships, etc.

So you can better understand the magnitude of Axact, when the FIA raided their print shop in May, 2015, in Karachi at night (when Co-founder and CEO, Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh accompanied them), they seized 2,200,000 blank diplomas, transcripts, accreditation letterheads, etc. which the FIA General displayed to the press. Axact officials were masters at “Fake News” long before our current politicians made this a daily commonplace. Axact is the master at using all aspects of social media, along with fake free press releases, to hype and support their fake schools and business acumen.

Axact has sold millions and millions of fake diplomas and transcripts to individuals around the world since its formation in 1997 (initially only sold term papers and other scurrilous documents), before they purchased their first diploma mills and started sell to these wares. Afterwards, Axact began creating their own fake school in about 2003, by borrowing pictures of buildings, people’s images and identities, stock photos, or anywhere they took a notion to, adding text from companies and school sites around the globe, all resulting in what we have today. Sometimes they move so fast in creating a ‘new school’ they make an error and forget to change a name or two on a site, thus the schools ‘link up’. Or you can connect them through ‘tracing’ their faculty or accreditation. Several schools, including Gatesville, offer an “Online University Certified Education Associate” position where the associate keeps a percentage of tuition paid by the student, Silver 40%, Gold 50%, and Platinum 70%!! Think about this! I must compliment Axact on the finest graphics I have ever seen on these type sites.

Even after the diploma and transcript are sold, Axact employees have mastered squeezing additional monies from ‘graduates’ via the need for ‘legalization’ of their documents via Embassy stamps and seals, US Dept. of State Apostille Certification, etc.

Besides their size and world market via the Internet, Axact stands alone in another area. Generally, a diploma mill is finished with the buyer after they make the sale, maybe a verification to an employer later on.

Not with Axact! This is where their relationship takes a dramatic turn for the worse. Axact employees, those involved in the “Upsell” then tighten the screws on their ‘graduate’ with telephoned threats of arrest or deportation, impersonation, extortion, blackmail, supported by using phishing and spoofing techniques. They impersonate officials from law enforcement, government, regulators, Embassy personnel, even our Department of State, White House, and Department of Education in order to make this part of the fraud work. We have seen single victims of extortion by Axact in the range of $800,000+. There are also reports they may sell the credit card data they have amassed through their diploma sales. And, at one point, Axact recorded all these calls!!

Axact’s main target for sales is the Gulf Region, with the United States accounting for only about 34% of their sales. About 75,000 diplomas and transcripts have been sold in the USA. Axact reached the billion dollar sales mark in 2013-2014. Just think how long these fraudulent credentials will haunt the academic and business world in the future.

Like no other mill we have observed, Axact has diversified into other frauds (with web sites), including a publishing house, job placement companies, recruitment entities, term paper, dissertation mills, and research entities, ’reputation rebuilding/repair’, automobile importing, and travel sites.

Axact has probably stayed in business ‘in plain sight’ for 20+ years because of rumored connections with organized crime figures, connections with money laundering for the Pakistan government, their intelligence service ISI, or their military. (Many former Army officers, Colonel and Lt. Colonel are executives in Axact-What does this tell you?) I have never observed a case where a Judge admits accepting a $50,000 bribe to acquit the 14 Axact executives, which he did; a grenade is thrown into the house of a Axact former prosecutor; an Axact official on the eve of his ‘spilling the beans’ is assassinated on his way home one evening; several prosecutors were grabbed off the street and ‘re-educated’; cooperating employees disappear, etc. I hope you can see the magnitude and true colors of this fraud. This is just a brief glimpse. The FBI is investigating this.

Please look at these four fake school websites, two older, two newer. Once you have absorbed these, this will put you in a better position to instantly recognize their thousands of sites. Trace everything–accreditation, faculty names, and unusual word grouping, or misspelling!!

Sangonio University
Olford Mount University

A copy of the Pakistan FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) report on Axact (with school names) can be found on the web site of book, Degree Mills, which I co-authored at www.degreemills.com.

Additional Links:





Allen Ezell, FBI Agent (Retired), Education Consultant – Allen Ezell founded and was the head of the FBI’s DipScam diploma-mill task force. He is also the author of Counterfeit Diplomas and Transcripts and Accreditation Mills.


Filed under Credentials, Education

Academic Documents: The Psychology of Fraud

February 2, 2012

Binded Document

In less than a week, two senior analysts in my company detected irregularities on documents we had received for evaluation and both were able to determine that the documents had been falsified. Though the due diligence exercised by our team of analysts in their scrupulous review and handling of these applications is to be applauded, I am left with an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of my stomach. The two individuals whose false documents were quickly detected are intending to pursue employment and further studies in fields directly related to the welfare of the public. We may have succeeded in protecting our institution and those directly related but not the larger network of institutions and the general public. These individuals’ fraudulent documents may easily slip through the cracks in the hands of a less-experienced credential evaluator, personnel administrator, or college admissions officer.

Several years ago, I served as an expert witness on a legal case where the plaintiff, a young woman, had been misdiagnosed by a psychiatrist and suffered extensively under this therapist’s care. My investigation of the psychiatrist’s degrees revealed a trail of altered documents and diplomas from non-existent institutions. In fact, one of the universities he claimed to have attended for his doctorate degree was a diploma mill. The plaintiff was able to go forward and press charges, and the therapist’s license for practice was revoked. (A definition of diploma mills is provided on the US Government’s Department of Education website.)

According to a 2003 report by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning, “Academic fraud appears to be on the increase across the world, in developing and developed countries alike. It is a costly threat to societies, to their efficient operation and to public trust in the reliability and security of their institutions.”

The question we need to ask is what is causing this steady increase in academic fraud? What is the motivation? Is it an act of desperation? Is it a reaction to a competitive marketplace? There’s the old adage that desperate times force people to take desperate measures. But falsifying documents, in particular academic documents, which in many instances are used as the benchmark to qualify for a job or professional training, endangers the lives of those who are directly affected by the actions and services of the very people who misrepresent themselves as technicians, engineers, doctors, and teachers. The increasing participation in formal education perpetuates competition; competition for access to higher education, for jobs, training, higher salaries, promotions, and professional recognition. A few months ago, a news report spoke of a university professor in The Netherlands who had falsified his doctoral dissertation and held a teaching post at a prominent university. It is not just the individual immigrating to a new country, desperate to find a job to support his family, who may, out of desperation falsify his/her academic documents. The psychology of fraud transcends borders, cultures, and socio-economic ranks.

As our societies and economic structure continue to develop and expand–demanding a highly educated and skilled workforce–the pressure to obtain academic documents which meet these skillsets increases. It is no longer sufficient to complete the minimum required levels of education when higher and more specialized degrees are becoming the norm. One’s success in school and university has great value. Successful performance in examinations helps open not only doors to higher education and professional training but ensure a better chance of securing a job or promotion in a pool of qualified and aspiring candidates.

Advances in electronic communication, sophisticated copy machines and computer printers, system-wide bribery, plagiarism, degree and paper mills, impersonations, are now contributing to an industry of academic document fraud. We sit and watch perpetrators of white-collar crimes receive little or no punishment for their actions. Instead, we reward them with book deals, TV shows, high-paying consulting and speaker’s fees! We must shift our global mindset to a culture where integrity and ethical behavior are fostered and applauded; not a culture that supports and encourages the motto of “success by any means” where unscrupulous actions are the norm.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO of Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI)

Since founding ACEI in 1994, Jasmin and her team of analysts have dedicated
themselves to the advancement of international academic exchange and
understanding, through the dissemination of information on world educational
systems, and evaluation of international academic documents.

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Filed under Credentials, Education